29-38

Right now the question for the Mariners isn’t what can be fixed, but what can stay the same?

As we look to the next 90+ games of the season, we see that the Mariners only need to play 9 games over .500 to finish at .500. That’s a very doable number.

Let’s take a look at what can stay the same for Seattle going through the rest of the season.

 

Our 1-2 punch. Dare I say that right now Iwakuma might be the best pitcher in the American League? Obviously Max Scherzer is pushing it at 9-0, but simply put Hisashi does not let people reach base on him. With Felix atop the rotation and Kuma right behind, the Mariners can bank on doing pretty well with those two on the mound.

The ‘new’ young core. Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino are going to make a difference. Now, I’ll be honest and say I’m worried about Zunino’s defense after seeing him play against Oklahoma City a month ago. However, in the long term, he is going to learn a lot from Kelly Shoppach, who has caught his fair share of rotations. Shoppach can start two games out of every five, because Kuma’s ERA is below 2 when Shoppach is catching and then he can catch one other time during the week. It seems that Joe Saunders can have anybody catch him since he’s giving up a lot of runs consistently. The most important thing is letting these two guys get at-bats. If they don’t, then it’ll be tough for them to succeed at the major league level. Let Zunino catch Felix, Harang, and Bonderman and he can be great. There’s nothing bad about catching three veterans, especially when he caught Jeremy at Tacoma.

Our middle relievers. I’ll be the first to say Wilhelmsen should be the 6th inning guy at this point, but Furbush, Capps, and Medina are becoming a decently well-oiled machine in the middle. Wedge needs to work harder to play the matchups because we have depth in the pen. Sooner rather than later, we’ll have Pryor back and he can be our 8th inning with Capps closing games out. While he was hittable early on, his slider is WIPEOUT good and he can overpower others.

The veteran leadership. While some of these guys aren’t hitting or have let Father Time pass them, there is no doubt that guys like Raul, Endy, and Jason Bay are going to help the development of those around them. With no real infield veterans to depend on other than Kendry, those that are infielders (Seager, Franklin, Smoak) need to take advice from who they have around them and use it to their full advantage.

 

While it’s hard to be positive about 29-38, it’s also more time-consuming being negative about the future. As Mariners fans, we must take heed in the fact that we have had great years and we have had awful years. Hopefully soon enough, it’ll get better.

Within the week, look for an article about what I feel would be the best changes for the Mariners going forth this year and into next.

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The End Of The Rotation

The last two nights have been painful. While all my predictions could still come true about the Mariners, it isn’t going to happen while Beavan and Maurer are our 5 and 4. Sadly, I thought Maurer would come in and make a difference much like Pineda did a few seasons ago. The problem is that hitters already have the scouting report on him and his slider. If you see slider, don’t swing or let it hang.

0-2, 6.2 IP, 15 H, 12 ER, 2 HR, 3:1 SO:BB and he’s thrown 110 pitches in two starts. Talk about the disappointment. His line might be better, might be worse if he doesn’t take a liner off the thigh on Tuesday night. Yet it doesn’t really get much worse to start a major league career. In the upcoming future, I don’t know what the Mariners will do as it pertains to Maurer. We don’t have anybody at Tacoma that is ready to go if he can’t start. Kameron Loe has shockingly been a disappointment (All the sarcasm), so he can’t start. We just have to wait on Maurer to come around and fix his mechanics on a major-league mound.

As it goes with Beavan… he let Houston rock him. Obviously, they have put together their bats as of late, but Beavan does not have major league stuff and we keep putting him on the mound. It’s disappointing. I’m ready for our young guys to develop.

Here’s to hoping Felix gets a much deserved win tonight against Texas.

Derek’s Bold Predictions

Now that Kevin was able to give you all a sense of what he thinks is going to happen, let me give you a bit of my brain to chew on.

The Mariners do better than .500. In a division with the Astros (who we see 19 times) and the Angels, who are SUPER overrated because of the money Moreno can throw around, we can win some games. I see us going 13-6 against Houston, 11-8 against Anaheim, 12-7 against Texas, and 8-11 against Oakland. That’s a 44-32 division record, which is incredibly respectable.

That leaves 86 games out of the division. For us to reach .500, we have to win 38 of those games. Seems easily attainable for us. Interleague play helps us a lot as well as we go 10-8. That means we only need to win 28 American League games outside of the division to finish .500. I like those odds.

Let’s talk rotation. Felix is Felix. He will contend for the Cy Young all year with Darvish, Jarrod Parker, and Verlander… pulling away at the end due to a successful August/September, which includes a 2.42 ERA, a 8-1 record, and a shutout of either St. Louis or Detroit in mid-September to help keep the Mariners in the chase.

The rest of the rotation is really up in the air. Iwakuma can continue to get groundballs and win, finishing 12-7. Saunders goes 11-10 while eating 225 innings. Maurer gets Rookie of the Year in the AL for his sparkling 15-9 record and a 3.24 ERA. Beavan gets demoted to the bullpen or Tacoma once Hultzen catches fire at Tacoma.

The offense is of course always the question. Kevin went out on a limb and said that Smoak was going to be insanely good this year. I honestly need to see it to believe it. He struggles far too much out of the gate and into May to make it a question. Smoak becomes the best pinch-hitter on the team alongside Bay and Kendrys takes over at first eventually.

Speaking of Kendrys, he hits .307 with 31 HR and 106 RBI. Best season for a Mariner in a long time. Mike Morse follows that up with a .314 average, 28 HR and 97 RBI.

Dustin Ackley hits .290. It’s going to happen.

Kyle Seager hits .275 with 50 doubles.

Brendan Ryan wins a Gold Glove (FINALLY), while hitting .210.

Jason Bay and Raul combine to hit 25 homers, but at a clip of .233.

Michael Saunders continues his hot hitting and finally goes 20/20, if not 25/25.

Guti gets hurt and the Mariners cut him loose at the end of the year.

Morse and Kendrys resign and stay in Seattle.

The bullpen wins more games than it loses and Wilhelmsen has 35+ saves with a sub-3 ERA.

The Mariners will trade one of the big three (Sorry, James), along with Nick Franklin and Carlos Peguero to find a consistent OF (Giancarlo, Seattle isn’t that bad!) after trading Casper Wells in the next ten days.

Overall, Oakland wins the division by three games at 91-71. The Mariners finish 88-74. Anaheim finishes 81-81. Texas and Houston both finish below .500.

Most of you will think I’m crazy for having Texas below .500, but beyond Darvish… they have no pitching worthwhile. Did you all see Harrison get lit up last night by Houston?! C’mon.

Here’s a full breakdown of who we play and my projected record:

Houston: 13-6

Texas: 12-7

Anaheim: 11-8

Oakland: 8-11

Baltimore: 2-4

Toronto: 2-4

Tampa Bay: 3-3

Yankees: 5-2

Red Sox: 3-4

White Sox: 3-3

Detroit: 4-3

Indians: 5-2

Minnesota: 3-4

KC: 4-3

San Diego: 2-2

Pittsburgh: 2-0

Cubs: 2-1

Reds: 1-2

Milwaukee: 2-1

STL: 1-2

2013 Mariners Bold Predictions

With the season two days away, I want to take the time to make a few predictions about the 2013 version of the Seattle Mariners. So here we go:

Justin Smoak will finally come into his own from both sides of the plate and have a career year. I foresee 26 homeruns, 95 rbi’s, a .270 batting average. Oh and he will win the gold glove for first base.

The Mariners will finish the season in the top 5 in homeruns, top 10 in runs, and top 5 in both team ERA and fielding. The fences moving in will hurt the pitching staff a little, but not enough to knock them out of the top 5.

Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse will both club 30, but will not be the only ones producing. Along with those two and Smoak the Mariners will see Seager, Saunders and Montero all hit 20 homeruns. Ibanez will do the damage from the bench with 15 followed by Gutierrez and Ackley with 10. Sorry Brendan but you will be lucky to hit 5.

Brandon Maurer, not Iwakuma, will end the season as the second best pitcher in the Mariners rotation and will start the wild card play in game.

Might as well throw it out there now the Mariners will be one of the two wild card teams in the American League.

Blake Beaven will struggle out of the gate and barely make it to the end of the may with a sub 5.00 era. Danny Hultzen, who will finish the year with 10 wins, will replace him.

Eric Wedge is named Manager of the year, Smoak the comeback player, and Maurer the Rookie of the year.

King Felix will be just that once again as he captures his second CY Young award finishing with an amazing 23-5 record.

Tom Wilhelmsen will finish the year top 3 in saves, with an era sub 2.00.

The Mariners will win 90 games and fall just one game short of winning the division on the last day of the year to the Athletics.

This team is much improved this year and really is significantly better than any team that I have seen suit up for the Mariners in about 11 years. If this team carries over the confidence from the Cactus League to the regular season the American League West better watch out.

Battle 2013: 4th Outfield Spot

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The most intriguing situation to watch this spring is what is going to happen to Jason Bay. With Saunders most likely slated into the left field starting job and Guti, when healthy, slated to start in center, it leaves right field the only “open” competition. I say it like that because we can be fairly certain that the recently reacquired Mike Morse.  I was all about Jason Bay about 4 or 5 years ago. I realize that Bay was playing in Pittsburgh and then Boston, when he was putting up gaudy numbers, but its not like he was a terrible ball player.

Bay crippled his career when he went to the play for the NY Mets at Citi Field. From 2004 – 2009 Bay averaged 30 hr/99 rbi / .280 BA. On any team those are pretty darn good numbers. On the Mariners during that same span Jason Bay would have been a super star. When Bay went over to the Mets things changed. The last three years have been marred by injuries, unfriendly confines, and falling out of favor with the team. He struggled averaging 9 hr/ 41 rbi/.234 BA. I choose to believe that if Bay is healthy, that he could potentially bring some pop to the team, especially now that the dimensions at Safeco Field have become more hitter friendly (or so they say).

I’m not saying that Bay should make this team. I am a sucker for the guy, as he is a graduate of Gonzaga University, but that is not reason enough for him to make the team. We have younger players on the team that have higher upside. We have been heading in the right direction, and I am a fan of how our outfield is projecting. Saunders showed a huge leap last year in his offense and should continue to improve this season. Gutierrez can be little better than average bat and brings a defense that is unmatched (in the outfield) on the team. Right field will probably be the best offense that the team sees. Morse brings a quality power hitting right hander that could help to take some pressure off of our younger guys.

So it comes down to that forth outfield spot. My guess is that it will come down between Jason Bay and Casper Wells. Wells has not done a whole lot in his young career, but really has never been given a chance. Wells is more versatile and can play all three positions, whereas Bay is pretty limited and his defense can be subject at times. I like both players and would have no problem with either player being on the team. In the end, just like any other, it will come down to the player who puts the Mariners in the best position to win.

 

Something To Look Forward To.

The King

As I read through the drudges of the baseball interwebs, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people hate the deal that the Mariners just shelled out to Felix Hernandez. First off, I can’t take internet trolls seriously. Secondly, this is the best thing to happen to Seattle baseball since Ichiro’s single-season hit record. Thirdly, I’m not kidding.

The baseball fans of the Seattle Mariners needed something to cling onto. In 1995, the fans and the team refused to lose and believed in Sodo Mojo. In 2001, the team took Ichiro in and had a modern-day win record. Minus the postseason failure of running into a very-hot Yankees team, we still relish that. When Ichiro broke George Sisler’s record, we made sure he was ours to keep (look where that got us).

When Felix took a barely .500 record and won the Cy Young, we knew we had to lock him up and we did. Then when he threw the perfecto against Tampa Bay, we knew we had to lock him up even longer. The tragedies that have occurred to Mariners fans are undeniable, yet the success and happiness is indescribable. I was 6 years old in 1995, yet when I hear Niehaus call The Double, I well up with tears. I screamed at the computer last year when Pineda was traded for Montero. I was sad yet ecstatic when Vargy got dealt for Morales this offseason. I long for Justin Smoak to play like every month is September. I want Seager and Ackley to take us to the promised land like they did at UNC-Chapel Hill. I want Felix to be the leader for Danny, Brandon, James, and Taijuan.

I look back upon those that we have seen come and go in the last twenty-plus years: Junior, A-Rod, The Big Unit, Bret Boone, Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Tino Martinez, and all of those we dealt before they hit their potential. I realize one thing about them. Even though they may have loved Seattle, there was something that needed to change for them or the organization. In the long run, Mariners fans will remember those players and then some, but also know that Junior, Edgar, and the King will be wearing Seattle hats in the Hall of Fame. (Maybe Randy, but he has to choose between the team that loved him or the team that he built his legacy on in Arizona.)

Mariners fans needed this signing like a long-term relationship needs a wedding. It’s the end point for now and a happy one at that. Whether Felix has elbow issues or not, we made an investment not only to please Felix or the organization, but the fans as well. He is, and always will be, our King.